Leaving Vienna

Our train leaves at 2:03, so we actually have another half day to visit the Nashtmakt and buy some poppyseed cake, now that we know what it is called – (Mohnstrudel). This is an everyday market but especially crowded on the weekend.



Oh dear, this doesn’t look very crowded, but I chose a break in the traffic to show the stalls.


Exotic fruit, the pink ones are dragon fruit.

As well as the multitudinous spices, cheeses, fruit and vegetables, cafes and eating stalls there is also an extensive flea market with everything from grandfather clocks to old socks.


Antique Phonograph, amongst other things

We purchase some Mohnstrudel, which we now see everywhere, and have a Pita sandwich before we go back to collect our bags and say goodbye (or auf weidersehen) to our fabulous hosts, Fabio and Christina.

Yesterday we practised going to the station, because, as everyone knows, once you miss a train you have to become a refugee, and it took us 45 minutes from our flat to get hopelessly lost and confused. Today, though we didn’t do anything radically different, we got on the S bahn, above ground local train, got off and walked across the platform. With an hour to spare! Still that left plenty of time for a coffee and to scarf the Mohnstrudel we got at the market.

The train duely arrives and we are off to Budapest.

Back to Earth

Oh well, perhaps we won’t buy the Schonbrun after all.

Today is our last full day in Vienna, so I might not get to post until we’re settled in Budapest.  Stayed up late last night, talking to our hosts and writing, so I’m a bit tired today.  One final museum to go, the Albertina.  They currently have four exhibitions, Munch, Monet to Piccasso, Feininger & Kubin and Drawing Now,2015.

The Munch is a large collection of prints, lithograph, woodblock and mixed media.  Munch was one of the first to revive “art printing” in early twentieth century.  He kept his blocks, and made frequent reprints often modifying the subject slightly.  It is quite fascinating to see a series of prints and to compare them side by side.

image image

Munch, Girls on a Bridge, two versions

Munch was depressed for most of his life, his mother and sister died when he was young, his sister of tuberculosis, and he also had a brush with that disease.  Though Munch had affairs, he formed no long term relationship, and as a result, perhaps, his view a women was pretty jaundiced or at least ambivalent.


Munch, Madonna, or witch?


Vampire, or tender kiss?

He did depict jealousy extremely well, perhaps from experience.


Munch, Jealousy

 Never the less he did live until he was 80.

the Monet to Picasso was also excellent featuring two of my all time favourites, Oscar Kokoschka


Kokoschka, London Bridge

and Max Beckmann.


Beckmann, Woman with Cat

As well some Jawlensky, Vlamink, Chagall and of course Piccasso, who ends the exhibition, thematically if not chronologically.


Piccasso, Mediterranean Scene

I have. To admit I’m getting tired, after a late night last night, so we quickly visit the last two exhibits, Feininger and Kubin, illustrators and friends they wanted to be “artists”, and achieved a certain fame in a cubist and naive style.

Drawing today is actually very good, though I’m really too tired to appreciate it.  There is one artist doing “extended drawing” by using thin wire to bring the drawing out into three dimensions.  In some parts it can be quite hard to tell what has been drawn on the wall and what is standing out.  I did take some pics but with my ‘steam’ camera, so I might post about them after we get home.

After the Albertina, we sat on bench in the sun and I had a quick doze.  We have been extraordinarily lucky with the weather, only two really rainy days so far in the whole trip.  Feeling somewhat refreshed we walk down to the Danube canal, which is really a part of the old course of the Danube.  It still contains quite a volume of water, with quite large boats cruising up and down.


Danube canal

There is also Vienna’s “beach” where people stretch out and enjoy the sun, and a beer.


Along the canal and on the flood walls are many street artists, sculptors and paintings, to rival Berlins Eastside gallery, though the works are not so political.


Public Art

Speaking of politics, there is an election coming in Austria, though I’m not sure wether it’s city or national.  One of the parties is Neos, again I’m not exactly sure of their politics, self described as “liberal and democratic”, (don’t they all) but I love their poster.



The major collection of Klimt is in the Belvedere palace, built for Prince Eugene of Savoy between 1712 and 1718, it may be a little old but it would make a great weekender.


Belvedere palace

At present it is being used for art shows and such like.  The current tenants are a bit sniffy about photography, this post will be light on pics.  They do have a full size poster of “The Kiss” in the foyer


Kiss poster

but it doesn’t do anything like justice to the vibrant gold or the colours of the rosettes on the woman’s dress or the flowery field on which they stand or kneel.  There are the famous portraits of Sonja Knipps, 1898, and Frita Riedler, 1906, in which the decorative elements begin to appear, also “Adam and Eva”, “Judith” and several others which were unfinished at his death in 1918 (stroke not flu)

There are also many 19th century, realist and romantic paintings, a David of Napoleons on horseback stands out, and also Impressionists and Expressionists, Clovis Corinth, Kirchner, Kokoschka.

After poking around for a bit, we decided that the Belvedere might be a bit small for our needs, so we had a look at another Viennese property.


Schloss Schonbrun

We didn’t even have go in to know it is roomy enough to accomodate our friends.  The swimming pool is more ornate.


Neptune pool

No Sphinxes!!!


Do come and visit.

Leopold at Last

I should have explained that the Leopold is part of a complex of museums known as the Museum Quartier, and it is named after Rudolf Leopold who amassed a collection of 5200 artworks, including the greatest collection of Egon Schiele works.

Schiele was a protege of Klimt and was a unique talent, tragically dying in 1918 from the Spanish flu just days after his wife. There are several Klimt’s in the collection along with other early 19th century Austrian artists

Klimt’s Death and Life is the centrepiece of this exhibition, from the Klimdt collection, at least.


Life and Death

here death looks malevolently at life, which shows all stages from birth to old age. Death can all these in turn, but cannot take multifarious life itself.  The major part of the exhibition though is from the Schiele collection and it is magnificent.  Reprentative is this self portrait, one of many, Schiele placed himself in many of his paintings.  At first grotesque, Schiele’s work captivates by its sheer honesty and perception.


Schiele, Self Portrait

He had a long term relationship with his model, “Wally” and there are two portraits, which I’ll try to put together, of Schiele and Wally.


Ok, that seems to have worked.  He married someone else though, perhaps because he was becoming respectable!

the exhibition is fantastic and after four hours or so, we go in search of more Klimt at the Secession museum, which contains his “Beethoven Frieze”.  To tell the truth, this is rather disappointing.  The frieze was made for a specific exhibition of the Secession movement in 1902.  Though it contains many iconic Klimt images, it was painted on panels and has now been re-installed onto concrete, which creates a bizarrely incongruous effect.  No photographs!  Many images can be found on the net.


Did that work?  Any way, a picture of the Secession building.


Today is Tuesday, it must be Museums

We were planning to go to Leopold and Momok (Modern Art Museum) but it’s Tuesday and they’re closed of course.  Some rapid replanning and we off to the Kunthistorishes Museum (which means Art Historical) which contains the major Austrian collections, most of them acquired or commissioned by the Hapsburgs or their noble followers.


The Kunthistorishes museum


The foyer (with cafe) is incredibly ornate

The collection is huge and we can only see a small sample before exhaustion will set in. Concentrating on European painting there is a grand collection of Reubens, Holbein, Cranach, and two fabulous Rembrant self portraits, approximately ten years apart and a poignant portrait of his son, Titus, reading. Titus died only one year before his father.  There are Carravaggio, Tiepolo, Velasquez, and of course, the jewel in the crown the Breugals.  Vienna houses about one third of his extant paintings, including five of the six surviving “seasons”.  As his anatomy is sometimes dubious, the fame of Breugal probably rests on his acute observation of daily peasant life in exquisite detail.  My favourite:


The Tower of Babel

One of the great traditions of European art education is students copying the masters in museums.  I have read about it but never experienced it, – until today!





this young lady is making an excellent job of copying Breugal’s “Hunter returning in Snow”, the very first winter landscape painting.

After about four hours we stagger out, have our sandwiches in the park and think about the rest of the day.  It’s too late for another major museum, but it’s just right for Viennese coffee and cake.


Mmmmm, cake

And after that a tram to the rather elusive Hundertwasser village.  It is a truth, universally acknowledged,  that local people have no idea where their famous attractions are located.  However, there is always an exception to the rule, so we arrive at last.


Hundertwasser buildings


Another view

The actual museum, is closing so it’s back on the tram and home.


In Vienna we are staying AirBNB, a large room in an apartment with a lovely young couple. The first day is basically orientation. Walking into the centre mid morning we pass through the Naschmarkt, one kilometre of market stalls, open everyday, which has an overwhelming array of clothes, spices, pastries, coffee, fruit and vegetables.

At first we are a bit daunted by the Imperial scale of Viennese buildings, the State Opera for example.


State Opera, Vienna


The Hofburg courtyard,


 but after getting used to that they are also very elegant. Most of the buildings have a host of detail and sculptural relief.


A corner of the Hofburg gate

There are four of these, each representing different virtues.  In the square immediately in front, there is a open archeological site with remains from Roman and Medieval periods.

St Stephens cathedral, though I don’t usually care much fir churches, was I must admit quite impressive.  Gothic Romanesque in style, it mostly dates from the fourteenth century.


Stephandom (St Stephens)


The interior is even more elaborate

Continuing past the Natural History Museum, which flanks a park and a very grandiose statue memorialising Empress Maria Therese,


Naturhistorisches Museum

we reach Museum Quarter, a complex of about 60 art spaces, we intended to visit the Leopold, which has Klimt and Schiele, but it was closing early for a private function, so we decide to leave it for another day.

Now I am almost caught up with our actual travels and it’s time for bed.

Last day in Prague

Dana our host has to work, so we are skiving off by having a lie in. But there is much more to be seen and we have great ambitions for the day, so we are under way by 10:30.

We skip the Mucha museum because Kampa Island also has some Mucha. Instead we climb on the tram for the National Galleriy’s modern art centre. They have three main collections, Czech art of nineteenth and twentieth century, Fench impressionists and selection of Viennese and German expressionists including some Klimt and some very good Kokoscka and some more contemporary artists There are also special exhibitions, one in particular I am keen to see, “Artists and Phrophets” which a has Bueys, Kupka, Hundertwasser and others.

The Czech gallery has mainly unknown, deservedly, 19th century works, apart from an arresting salon painting of a massacre of Adamites by Hussites. Apparently Adamites were a sect which believed in going about naked, like Adam I suppose. I didn’t know that! They were violently suppressed by the followers of Jan Huss, who were, of course, themselves heretical according to catholic authorities.

We skipped the impressionists to save time and went straight through to the moderns. Some pics below.


Charles Bridge Oscar Kokoshka


TheCruel History of Our Times, Emilio Vedova

 Then the main event, Artist and Prophets. These artists are known as the Vienna Secession, and some of them are very strange, advocating nudism, at least for children, adults could wear simple homemade clothes. Harking back to the Adamites perhaps. There is a group photo, looking like an unsuccessful dress up party. Others went about barefooted and scantily clothed, identifying themselves with Jesus, one baptising his child in a mountain stream, causing it to perish.

The first room is dedicated to a frieze Per Aspera ad Astra, by Karl Diefenbach, black silhouette figures on white ground form a parade of frolicking figures, mostly childlike and nude, some dressed in simple quasi Greek robes. There are also ape like figures, playing musical instruments, so clearly evolved.


Sample as postcard

Another with the pseudonym Fidus, had mystical and Theosophical notions, and promoted “biological hygiene”, whatever that may be. He designed and made intricate models of “earth temples” unlikely ever to have been built. At once fantastical grandiose and oppressive.


Model of Earth temple

I don’t really know what to make of them, proto hippies or proto nazis? Perhaps a bit of both.

Well they are a fascinating glimpse into a largely forgotten movement, even if they are sometimes lumped with the symbolists, and, oh dear we have run out of time for Kampa Island, and we are meeting our host at the Charles bridge, so have to fly.

Tomorrow to Vienna by bus.